Rep. Mark Duffin's status as a full-time student at University of Utah has Democrats questioning whether he is a valid candidate for re-election.
"I have to seriously consider whether he's a candidate or a student," said Edgar Malepeai, chairman of the Bannock County Democratic Central Committee.Duffin, a Republican farmer from American Falls, confirmed he is attending classes at University of Utah. He said his studies will not prevent him from running or serving as an elected representative from District 29, a "floating" district which covers seven counties in southeastern Idaho. He is opposed by Democrat Mike Peck of Pocatello.
"I had always planned to return to school and I was able to work out my legislative schedule so I can't see where there's a problem," said Duffin.
"Besides, I try to come home on weekends to campaign and maintain contact with the voters," he said.
As for his residency, Duffin said Idaho is his legal residence. He is attending the university on a tuition exchange program. That precludes him from establishing Utah residency.
Originally, he planned to attend Idaho State University, majoring in political science. However, because of ISU's school calendar and his inability to get the classes he wanted, Duffin opted for the University of Utah.
"Down here, I can go through three quarters, sit out the one which falls during the Legislature, and still maintain full-time status," he said.